Dr. David Jager’s Dog and Pony Show

To kick off his Dog and Pony playlist at New Music World, Dr. David Jager curates a collection of tracks about dogs. Next up? Ponies?


Let Me Play With Your Poodle

Album: Don’t Tampa With Blues
Artist: Tampa Red
Label: Prestige/Bluesville

I first heard of this song by Tampa Red when visiting the Bullfrog, a coffee shop in Amsterdam sometime in the early oughties. 

I fell to talking with a young gentleman from Nashville in the songwriting and music production business. We discussed Lucinda Williams, the strange and grisly burial story of Graham Parsons, and this particular adult novelty song by Tampa Red

Let Me Play With Your Poodle is a hokum blues song, meaning a song that is slyly suggestive in an adult manner, and it rose to #4 on the Harlem Hit Parade that same year.

Poodle, as you might guess, is a euphemism for something on a lady “that has long black and shaggy hair and looks in the face like a teddy bear.” Woof.

My favorite line has always been about the two old maids.

Listen to it here.


If I Had A Dog

Album: Next Thing
Artist: Frankie Cosmos
Label: Bayonet Records

This song from Greta Kline’s ongoing indie project Frankie Cosmos comes off of her sophomore album Next Thing.

It shows the young singer-songwriter reaching a new stage of maturity, with lyrics that work as sparse, stand-alone poems.

Kline’s melancholy understatement, both musical and lyrical, has already won over critics.

Her songs come off as both crisp and soft-focused, with their lofi synths and perfectly low-key guitars. But there’s loads of nuanced feels seething beneath the placid surface.

If I Had A Dog is a bittersweet snapshot of a quiet girl contemplating the possibility of ownership and attachment.

Listen to it here.


Now I Wanna Be Your Dog

Album: The Stooges
Artist: The Stooges
Label: Elektra Records

A punk anthem on The Stooge’s eponymous debut album that is also the beginning of a historical era.

The Stooges, a loose collection of anti-hippies hanging out in Detroit, spent their formative first months smoking hash, strumming, and shooting the shit in ridiculous ways. One afternoon, imagining the antics of a rampaging Mongol tribe, a choppy riff was born.

All it took was the inimitable art brut vocal stylings of Jim Osterberg over the top, sounding manic and uncomfortably horny. 

What’s he talking about, exactly? Who cares?  

It’s the song that gave us Iggy, the imp who has been writhing around shirtless on stage like a freshly severed power line, shooting high voltage sparks for over fifty years. He wants you. Here.

Listen to it here.


Your Dog

Album: Clean
Artist: Soccer Mommy [Sophie Alison]
Label: Fat Possum Records

Some sixty years after ‘Now I wanna be your dog’- oof- Sophie Alison- aka Soccer Mommy-has a dirge about relationship stagnation that states the opposite.

She doesn’t want to be your dog.

Sophie, who enjoys prancing around in pigtails while snarkily popping gum or slumping around in corduroy coveralls like a third-year art student, has crafted this smart indie ditty about romantic emotional bondage. She says she feels more like an accessory than the actual half of a relationship.

clean by sophie alison

In the video, however, which I recommend, the entire dynamic is reversed, and she’s seen dragging a completely inert boyfriend from location to location, looking bored, and drawing on his face with a lipliner.

Relationships are still complex, in other words.

These new singer songwriters are pretty smart.

Listen to it here.


I Bet On Losing Dogs

Album: Puberty 2
Artist: Mitski
Label: Dead Oceans

Japanese American Indie pop darling Mitski has collaborated with David Byrne and put out six studio albums of eerie, layered, disturbing, glitch pop.

Like many Mitzi songs, this track sounds like something you’d hear in a dream immediately after hitting the snooze button.

The very basic drum intro gives no clue to her sudden entry through a harmonic side door, after which the song slips from key to key like a model stumbling around on Ambien.

Mitski’s plaintive vocals, backed by a layer of floaty ethereal backup harmonies, still deliver some pithiness. She roots for losers, she wants you to know.

Then, with her signature bluntness, she asks if you’ll look into her eyes while she cums.

It’s a direct line to Gen Z angst and ambiguity that doesn’t need your help.

Listen to it here.


Hound Dog

Hound Dog

Artist: Big Mamma Thornton
Label: Peacock Records

This is the song that launched Elvis’s career, and it never made sense to me.

Why was he calling some woman a hound dog?

It sounded over the top and oddly misogynistic.

Until I heard the original by Big Mamma Thornton.

Now I understand what this song is about.

Thornton, a working-class woman, sings about a man who scratches around her back door from time to time, expecting her to feed him and keep him company for the night.

Big Mamma Thornton

A real dog, in other words.

So this was never a song about a woman who did Elvis wrong.

It’s a song about a lonely woman who can’t get a dog to commit, even as much as she loves it when he stops by.

That shimmying, deeply syncopated groove is an improvement too.

Listen to it here.


Fluffy

Fluffy

Album: 12 Golden Country Greats
Artist: Ween
Label: Elektra Records

I know this couple who are diehard Ween fans.

And you can’t be a diehard Ween fan if you don’t think Country Greats is one of the greatest joke albums ever.

Even so, they object to ‘Fluffy’.

Didn’t need to be on the album, they tell me dismissively. I disagree.

12 Golden Country Greats

If Ween’s raison d’etre is high weird parody and they set out to make mutant country music, they had to include a sentimental song about a dog with somber lap steel and warbly emotion choked vocals.

A voice that sounds like it drank a bottle of Robitussin.

Which makes you ask “are they joking?” while you scratch your head and laugh.

Classic Ween, in other words. 

Listen to it here.


I Love My Dog

I Love My Dog

Album: Matthew & Son
Artist: Cat Stevens
Label: Deram Records

We’ve had a long, complex, and sometimes disheartening relationship with Yusuf. We all loved that gruff, warm, wise beyond its years voice and silvery guitar when the young singer-songwriter called himself Cat Stevens.

Then he ended his career, renounced his entire song catalog, and changed his name to Yusuf Islam. He spent the intervening years running madrasas and giving terse, removed, and defensive interviews.

He once even appeared to agree with the murderous fatwah against fellow Englishman Salman Rushdie.

Well, he must have mellowed, because he dropped the ‘Islam’ from his last name and- to everyone’s astonishment- released a commercial album in 2006- another cup.

Roadsinger followed in 2009.

cat stevens

Many critics and former fans weren’t sure what to think. The voice was the same, but something had shifted after two decades.

Then, in 2014, it was announced that Yusuf had embraced his former music catalog again and was going to perform live in the United States after 28 years of silence. So it seems like we might have him back.

I Love My Dog is a throwback from an earlier, less complicated time in his career. Just the young Cat Stevens we loved expressing love for his dog.

Listen to it here.


This Old Dog

This Old Dog

Album: This Old Dog
Artist: Mac Demarco
Label: Captured Tracks

Mac Demarco is known for his surreal stage antics, like singing U2’s Beautiful Day stark naked and then shoving a drumstick up his butt. He also likes to dress up as a lizard.

But he is also an excellent, crafty singer-songwriter.

‘This Old Dog’, the title track from the album of the same name, shows off Demarco in all of his straightforward, mellow, lap steel golden grooviness.

It’s also a surprisingly mature apology song, expressing its sentiment in sly, wink-wink fashion.

“This old dog ain’t about to forget’ he promises in the chorus. Pledges of love have rarely sounded this infectious and laid back.

Listen to it here.


Wild Pack Of Family Dogs

Wild Pack Of Family Dogs

Album: The Moon & Antarctica
Artist: Modest Mouse
Label: Epic Records

A bit of an indie throwback on this one.

This is a story song from Modest Mouse.

It’s from their first release on Epic Records, The Moon and Antarctica, which came out in 2000.

It’s a window into how a bunch of rural kids from around Portland and Washington became fascinated by Pavement, XTC, and the Pixies and mixed in their own arcane brand of folk-tinged Americana.

I wonder where in Oregon you’d have to live to experience a wild pack of family dogs rampaging through your yard, or attempting to get your family dog to join them.

I also think it could be an allegory about domestication and freedom.

Join the wild dogs!

Be a Portland indie musician!

Listen to it here.


Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog

Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog

Album:
Artist: Johnny Cash
Label:

We all know that Johnny Cash did a live album at Folsom Prison, but did you know that he also did a live album at a prison in Sweden?

It is called Pa Osteraker and it’s thirty clicks north of Stockholm.

Seems like the man in black spoke for imprisoned men everywhere. You can even hear Cash speaking some Swedish to the roaring approval of the convicts.

Johnny Cash

Dirty Old Egg Sucking Dog was a favorite at Folsom, as it is here.

It’s a loving tribute to a raggedy old farm dog who can’t keep out of the henhouse. A classic redneck country song, in other words.

Listen to it here.


Im Yr Dog

Im Yr Dog

Album: Wow Cool
Artist: Richie Woods
Label: Bandcamp

In the interstitial space between Hip Hop, retro lounge, and Shoegaze, Richie Woods has been carving out an eccentric niche for himself and doing pretty well.

I feel nostalgic listening to him because a lot of his Bandcamp productions recall the golden days of nineties lofi when you could grab a plastic ukulele, a looping pedal, and your drum machine and record an album in your kitchen on a Tascam.

Im Yr Dog, with its dream guitar loop, tinny drum sample, and monotone chanting lyrics recreate this dimension with an added Madlib twist.

It also helps that it sounds like it’s coming out of a shower radio.

We also see that a lot of Millennial relationships appear to be stuck in endless ambivalence. Yeesh.

Listen to it here.


Atomic Dog

Atomic Dog

Album: Computer Games
Artist: George Clinton/Bootsy Collins
Label:

The whole Parliament-Funkadelic mythology is so outrageous, so psychedelic, so funky and over-the-top gleeful, that you just have to submit.

George Clinton’s genius welded the strange Egyptian riddled mysticism of the back to Africa Movement with the Afro-Futurism of Ramelzee, then brought it to life with million-watt infectious grooviness.

Bootsy Collins’s irresistible bass and planet-sized charisma didn’t hurt.

To think that sometime in the seventies George and Bootsy got together and said ‘Let’s dress like wild intergalactic ‘back to Africa’ Super Heroes and sing songs about Afronauts from the ancient pyramids flying around in a giant spaceship on a mission to funkify the Universe.”

I can’t imagine the laughter. And we’re still laughing.

Atomic Dog is, of course, their signature song.

Listen to it here


Serenade To A Poodle

Serenade To A Poodle

Artist: Slim Gaillard
Label: MGM Records

Slim Gaillard is one of those legendary early jazz musicians with a life and aesthetic sense so improbably strange and colorful that you can hardly believe he existed.

Yet he did, working many years with bassist Slam Stewart as Slim and Slam.

He was also a huge favorite of Jack Kerouac, who mentions Gaillard playing a San Francisco club in On The Road.

Gaillard is famous for his novelty jazz antics, including his invention of a completely imaginary language he called ‘Vout’.

Slim Gaillard

The most important word in Vout is apparently ‘Oroonie’, and he wrote an entire opera in the language, now lost to history.

Serenade to a Poodle is a prime example of the swing-driven skill with which they powered their utterly silly musical antics.

Listen to them and try to keep from cracking up.

Pure fun.

Listen to it here.

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